Mechanics of Composite Materials

EML4230                                                                                                     EML6232


Incredible Fish Armor Could Suit Soldiers
Last accessed September 3, 2008

This article is about the discovery of a composite material in nature. The focus is on the armor of an African fish called the Polypterus senegalus. MIT engineers took measurements of the fish's scale and its four layer material and also noted characteristics like shape, thickness, chemical properties and the orientation of the layers in an effort to better understand the armor and potentially utilize its features. Using the study of plants and animals to improve engineering knowledge is a very interesting concept and it shows how much people can still learn from the study of long existing natural systems. The article rather short and has few scientific details but it remains and interesting topic worth further exploration.  Sean Rodby, Fall 2008



Testing composite materials can be challenging

Last accessed September 3, 2008

This webpage highlight some of the challenges encountered when testing and evaluating composite materials.  They talk about particular challenges associated with measuring failure criteria such as fatigue and buckling as well.  They also discuss challenges associated with preparing samples for the various tests aren't of consideration when dealing with metals and other homogenous materials.  Michael Upham, Fall 2008


Information about vacuum infusion

Last accessed September 03, 2008


This is a page that summarizes the infusion process. Many of the advantages and disadvantages are explained thoroughly. The page revolves around a mans decision to use the vacuum infusion process, as apposed to hand lay up, to build a 44 ft f-39 sail boat. A handful of videos and pictures step you through the whole process from the cad design to the injection of the first main hull.  David Lopez, Fall 2008


Breakthrough Thermoplastic Composite Sheet from GE & AZDEL Improves Safety & Performance for Passenger Train Components

Last Accessed September 3, 2008


A new product called AZDEL* Rail-Lite* composite was recently introduced by GE and PPG Industries.  This breakthrough material is a low-pressure, thermoformable, lightweight composite sheet that exhibits excellent flame, smoke, toxicity, and heat-release performance in large semi-structural panels for train interiors.  This new product is made up of long glass fibers and epoxy, making the product very light but extremely durable.  In fact almost half the material is air, making it half as heavy as current materials used in passenger trains.  With the economy in the current fuel crisis that it is, using these panels would greatly reduce the fuel consumption of the train.  This new composite offers excellent strength, stiffness, and a low coefficient of thermal expansion. It also provides good ductility, unlike traditional fiber-reinforced plastic materials or sheet-molding compounds.  I found it interesting that this new material can be designed for zero shrinkage and does not require drying prior to thermoforming.  The article was very interesting and we may be seeing much more of this material in the near future.



A "green" boat named Earthrace has set a new record for circumnavigating the globe.

Last accessed September 2, 2008


On July 18, 2008, Earthrace's Captain Pete Bethune went on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation to discuss his bio-diesel, hemp-composite boat.  Bethune recently circumnavigated the globe by sea in less than 61 days - 14 days faster than the previous record.  Additional information about the boat including design specifications and its 50ft wave-piercing hull can be found at   Kevin Adcox, Fall 2008.


First Major GRP Road Bridge on the European Continent

Last accessed September 2, 2008


A 27 meter, glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) bridge was recently constructed over the B3 Highway near Frankfurt, Germany.  The bridge was pre-assembled near the highway and then lifted into position.  Using two steel beams and a multi-cellular GRP deck, manufactured by Fiberline Composites, provided a corrosion resistant, lightweight, and easy to install alternative to concrete bridge designs.  The innovative design is the result of research done by the Advanced Structural SystEms for Tomorrow's Infrastructure project of Europe.  In my opinion, although span limitations exist on traffic-carrying bridges, it would be a good idea to incorporate this technology into bridge and walkway designs used in Florida, due to its resistance to corrosion and harsh conditions.  Kevin Holmes, Fall 2008


What is carbon fiber?

This is a short description of the carbon fiber and its applicationsMatt Kunze, Fall 2008


Mosler Automotive

Last accessed August 7, 2012


The website is the main page for the carbon composite distribution company Mosler Automotive for its carbon fiber supercars.  Matt Kunze, Fall 2008


USCAR unveils new manufacturing process


This web page is about a new manufacturing process for large structural composites called programmable powder perform process (P4). It is a highly automated composite manufacturing process developed by researchers from United States Council for Automotive Research's (USCAR) Automotive Composites Consortium (ACC). The aim was to lower the cost and increase the manufacturing rate of composites made by the liquid molding process.   Punya Basnayka, Fall 2008


Comparing a graphite/epoxy and glass/epoxy bow

Last accessed September 5, 2008


This webpage consists of a project submitted by students in Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis   for composites course in fall-2000.


The project is comparing graphite epoxy and glass epoxy composite bow. The PowerPoint in the above link clearly demonstrates how the composite bow is modeled in ANSYS and how the loads are applied. The conclusion of the project is graphite epoxy is a better material to use for the composite bow because the stress distribution is uniform in it. The glass epoxy has stress concentrated on the outside curvature area and may fail over time in that area.  Sri Harsha Garapati, Fall 2008 


New Composite Material Is Almost Better Than Mother-of-Pearl

Last accessed on September 1, 2008


Nacre, or mother-of-pearl, is a naturally occurring composite material that has a high degree of toughness and strength. Researchers at Zurich's Department of Materials have developed a new composite material that resembles nacre. Nacre only deforms about 1 to 2 percent before it breaks, but this new composite can deform up to 25% before breaking. One draw back of this new composite material is that researchers can't make it defect-free like natural nacre.


Cooperative Research Center for Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS)

Last Accessed 1 September 2008


The CRC-ACS is a research group located throughout eastern Australia. The goal of the group is to is to "bridge research, development and implementation of composites technology" in support of the Australian composites industry. The website gives an overview of the center's main research areas: Aerospace, Maritime and General, as well as highlights new technologies such as Thermoset Composite Welding. Several success stories are presented where the group applied advanced composites research to solve high caliber industrial problems.   S Chris Colbert, Fall 2008


How Self-Healing Spacecraft Will Work

Last accessed September 04, 2008


This webpage gives information about a newly developed composite material which is able to fix the microcracks formed inside it. The principle behind this smart material is detecting cracks as they grow and fixing them using a healing agent dispersed in the material. The article shows an illustrative figure in showing how this is exactly achieved. It identifies potential applications of the material including self-healing spacecrafts.  Madhura Rajapakshe, Fall 2008.